This is the first Macworld I remember with almost no surprises. Apple must be leaking the truth these days.
So far, the hit of Macworld 2008 is not iTunes Store movie rentals. It’s wireless. Wireless and is MacBook Air, which Apple touts as “the world’s thinnest notebook.”
The crowds at Macworld are making it almost impossible to get a hands on, touchy feeling look at the MacBook Air, let alone the opportunity to grab and take and perhaps see if it’ll fit into my pocket as I make my way out of the exhibit hall.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs says the MacBook Air can be ordered now from the Apple Store and will begin shipping in a few weeks. I hesitate to use the term “ultra portable” but that’s exactly what MacBook Air is. Thin. Small. But a Mac.
Even Apple touts it as not only ‘the world’s thinnest notebook’ but also ultra thin, ultra portable, and ultra unlike anything else in the notebook world.
What sets the MacBook Air apart from anything else is the thin form factor. Truly, it can be hidden in a manila folder or under a couple of pieces of paper.
Relative to the thinness, the screen is huge, though only a little over 13-inches. It’s also bright, using an LED widescreen backlight display with 1280 by 800 resolution.
The keyboard is ‘full sized’ and about the same as on a MacBook. Also notable is the multi-touch trackpad. It’s huge, slightly wider than deep, with a very long click button. There’s also an ambient light sensor for the keyboard’s illumination.
Ports are not plentiful, but there’s just no room for more than the basics. The port hatch hides the USB port, a headphone jack, and a micro-DVI port (for DVI, compositve, S-video, and VGA output). The MagSafe magnetic power connector is included.
MacBook Air also sets the standard for RAM with a full 2 gigabytes. An 80-gigabyte hard drive is standard with the base price of $1,799, but if you mortgage your children or your house, there’s a 64-gigabyte SSD solid state drive. Think big flash card and no moving parts.
iSight is built-in, too, right on top of the open screen as it is in a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Battery life is estimated at 5 hours using wireless. That’s impressive.
Speaking of wireless, MacBook Air is counting on high speed 802.11n standard to help replace the Superdrive CD/DVD/DVD recorder that is not built-in, but available as an option for $99. Instead, MacBook Air uses a feature called Remote Disk.
Basically, Remote Disk lets your MacBook Air “borrow” a CD/DVD player or Superdrive from other Macs or PCs. Wirelessly.
Environmentally, this may be the greenest Mac ever. The aluminum case is Mercury free and recyclable.
The LCD display is also Mercury free and free of arsenic glass. Even the cables are PVC free, and of course it’s meets Energy Star requirements. Take that, GreenPeace.
The CPU is a miniature Core 2 Duo from Intel, available as 1.6 ghz standard with an optional 1.8 ghz model. The standard model features an 800 MHz frontside bus. The hard drive is Parallel ATA, not Serial ATA as in all the other Mac models.
There are some already complaining about the Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor which shares some memory with the MacBook Air’s 2 gigabytes. I don’t think that’ll be an issue. However, the MacBook Air can drive an external display with resolution up to 1920 by 1200 pixels.
There’s a built-in microphone, good for the iSight camera, but speakers are mono, not stereo. Bluetooth 2.1 is also built in.
Overall dimensions are impressive, save for the weight, at 3 pounds. MacBook Air is a little over 12.8 inches long, just under 9 inches wide, and is a wedge, barely 3/4 of an inch at the back, slimming down to just .16 of an inch in the front.
Impressive is the word I’ve heard used most often. MacBook air is not a Newton. It’s bigger and heavier, but it’s also a full sized Mac, even though it won’t fit in a pocket. Road warriors will love this Mac.
The base model is a pricey $1,799, but the SSD version is an even pricier $3,098. And neither model comes with an Apple Remote. Bummers.
I want one.